Component Reviews

Aperion Verus Grand Bookshelf Speakers, SRP: $699 pr.

A fine example of reasonably-priced bookshelf loudspeakers.

Published on September 10, 2013

Aperion Verus Grand Bookshelf Speakers,
SRP: $699 pr.

Aperion Verus Grand Bookshelf Speakers
SRP: $699 pr.

Specs:
Drive-units: 1″ ASR silk-dome tweeter, 5″ woven-Kevlar woofer with aluminum phase plug, two-way bass-reflex loudspeaker
Frequency response: 59Hz–20kHz, ±3dB; 54Hz–22kHz, ±6dB
Impedance: 6 ohms. Sensitivity: 87dB/2.83V/m. Recommended amplification: 30–2000
Dimensions: 13″ (330mm) H by 7.5″ (190mm) W by 9″ (230mm) D. Weight: 14 lbs (6.4kg)
Price: $699 pr.; matching I29 stands: $94 pr.
Warranty: 10 years
Rating: ****

Aperion Audio
18151 SW Boones Ferry Road
Portland, OR 97224
(888) 880-8992
http: www.aperionaudio.com


Verus-rearXWhy have bookshelf speakers been experiencing such resurgence lately? I’m not sure, but I have my theories. It may be because baby boomers are now retiring en masse, and consequently trimming down their audio equipment so they can move to smaller abodes with compact home entertainment centers. Or it maybe it’s because speaker technology has improved so dramatically in the past few years that bookshelf speakers have started reproducing sound that seriously challenges the output of their tower-tall brothers. Whatever the cause, buyers are descending on them like turkey vultures at a Florida roadside.

The Aperion Verus Grand bookshelf speakers look great. Like the recent crop of SUV automobiles, speakers are veering away from the boxy rectangular style of yesteryear and incorporating smoother, more fluid lines in their design. The feminine curves in the Verus converge at the back, which narrow to 5” wide from the 7.5” wide front. The height too has some variance, as a slight arc at the top rises to 13” at the peak from the 12.5” at the sides. The finish is available in both a gloss piano black and a gloss cherrywood veneer. The gloss piano black may impress your friends if you’re playing Glenn Gould for them.

But are they just another pretty face? How do they sound?

I listened to the speakers for about forty hours, not knowing how much break-in the company had subjected them to before sending them to me. Usually low bass and high level dynamic range improves with break-in, and I definitely noticed an improvement in the bass response after forty hours, but not so much in the high.

I tested the speakers with an LG BD590 Wi-Fi Network Blu-ray disc player and two amplifiers, each one separately: a mid-end NAD C 375DAC amplifier and an older low-end JVC RX-8040B receiver. (I prefer to hear how well speakers perform with low-end as well as higher end components.) The speakers have dual posts allowing for bi-amping, but I didn’t see the point in testing such a rarely used feature. For the Blu-ray fusion music I tested, I attached a Polk Audio PSW10 subwoofer.

For testing speaker response to mid-twentieth century music, you can’t get much more spot on than Karl Amadeus Hartmann’s post-WWII symphonies. The recording of his Symphony No. 5 “Concertante”; Symphony No. 6; Symphony No. 8 on Berlin Classics dramatically spotlighted the Aperion’s strengths. Because Hartmann is a master orchestrator who challenges the register of the modern ensemble, constantly forcing it higher in range and louder in decibels, his symphonies are ideal speaker tests. The Aperions capture well the brisk percussion of Symphony No. 8 along with its high-pitched woodwinds. Hearing the Weimar-period-like Symphony No. 5, I was startled how natural the sly bassoons sounded, how well the tweeters reproduced the upper harmonics of the trumpet as well the upper notes of the piccolos, all with no loss of zest.

Next, I played a recent Blu-ray disc of Verdi’s Rigoletto (Unitel Classica 723304). Leo Nucci plays the title character and the system showcases his rich baritone voice through duet pieces like his agonized reminiscences of the mother of his daughter Gilda (“Deh non parlare al misero”). The speakers bring Gilda’s broken semiquavers and sobbing appoggiaturas into such sharp focus that the sound throughout her scene feels immediate and intimate. Most impressive is the famous quartet from Act 3, particularly the main lyrical section “Bella figlia dell’amore,” in which Rigoletto and Gilda join the Duke and his consort Maddalena in a thrilling rendition of contrasting emotions. In this notable scene, the Aperions reveal the delineation of space between each of the singers as well as the physical space each occupies. There is no muddiness or melding of timbre because the Aperions feature both high frequency prowess and a fairly articulate midrange. This was the case whether I used the NAD C 375DAC amplifier or the JVC RX-8040B receiver. To be fair, the newer (and more expensive) NAD did bring out the bass range more efficiently and could handle higher range dynamics in more detail, such as the Duke’s subtle offstage reprise of “La Donna è mobile” in the last scene.

For testing high-energy progressive rock, I played the PSMS Blu-ray disc Live in Tokyo. To imagine this dynamic jazz fusion supergroup’s style, think early ‘70s Mahavishnu Orchestra minus the “spiritual” component. The Aperions shone when I played the John McLaughlin-like guitar riffs of Tony Macalpine. In cuts like “Apocalypse 1470 BC the music came through both clearly and stunningly, reproducing their excellent timing and dramatic pauses. Mike Portnoy’s drumming sounded explosive, Keith Moon-inspired even, and exposed the speakers’ aggressive side. At the same time they avoided the coarse snappiness I’ve heard out of small speakers when reproducing rock drumming. There was a slight disappointment in the bass range. To fully experience bass guitarist Billy Sheehan, I needed to hook up the Polk Audio PSW10 subwoofer. Without this attachment, Sheehan’s playing seemed to drop a notch and fade a few steps back (except during his solo). [Aperion also has a subwoofer...Ed.]

The PSMS playing produced another caveat. I hadn’t really noticed what happened if the speakers are placed in small cubbyholes of the typical small-apartment home entertainment center. Not a good idea. If you mount them on stands, surrounded by a sufficient cushion of air, the music breathes more deeply, particularly in the mid-range levels. So yes, you will probably need to make a few extra purchases to optimize your enjoyment of these excellent bookshelf speakers. Mounted on stands, they sound a touch fuller and richer. And don’t stick them into one of those generic home entertainment centers at IKEA. Spend a few bucks and hire a carpenter. [The price is reasonable because there is no middleman or dealers—Aperion speakers are sold direct from their web site...Ed.]

—Peter Bates




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